Eagles slow start leads to season-opening loss

December 1, 2021 | 12:05 am

Updated November 30, 2021 | 10:58 pm

Photo by Gage Johnson

Apollo came out flat in the first quarter and it came back to bite them, as Evansville Christian’s dynamic play on both ends led to a 70-46 loss for the Eagles.

Apollo got out to a rough start to open up the game, as Evansville Christian came out firing on offense.

Evansville Christian jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to a couple of and-one buckets before continuing to extend their lead thanks to second chance points.

Add some prolific three-point shooting—hitting four from deep—and Evansville Christian walked into the second quarter up 23-9.

The Eagles started to gain some traction offensively in the second quarter, but their defense continued to let Evansville Christian get deep in the paint which allowed clean looks at the rim and from deep.

The relentless up-tempo Evansville Christian offense helped them walk into the locker room holding a 40-24 lead.

The Eagles came out in the third quarter fired up, turning things around on both ends of the floor. Adding a little fullcourt pressure to cause some unrest for Evansville Christian offensively, Apollo had cut its deficit to 41-33 with 4:15 left in the third.

However, Evansville Christian flipped a switch and went on a 12-0 run of their own to close out the third quarter leading 53-33.

The fourth quarter remained much of the same, as Evansville Christian coasted to a 70-46 win and handed the Eagles their first loss of the season in front of their home crowd.

“We dug ourselves a hole like we did in our two scrimmages,” Head Coach Mark Starns said. “We dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter in transition. We were not getting back in transition and were giving up layups. Dunham was by far the best player on the floor for them. That was evident in the film that we saw. It was hard keeping him in front.”

Josiah Dunham led all scorers with 23 points, while Conner Sharp and Jake Schwepper both finished in double figures with 15 and 13 respectively.

Starns said that his team was gassed in the second half which affected them heavily on the defensive end. He and his staff recognize that they have to work on conditioning in practice going forward. 

“We had guys that were tired and they were able to get a run back on us,” Starns said. “We gotta have more guys in basketball shape. We gotta push in practice to do everything that we can to do that.”

Offensively the Eagles were led by sophomore Eli Masterson and senior Jaden Kelly, who finished with 12 and 10 respectively.

Overall Apollo’s offense was very stagnant throughout the night and Starns said that it’s a result of too many one-on-one possessions.

“Offensively, [we’ve got to be] playing team basketball,” Starns said. “I thought we tried to do too much and were forcing contested shots. We’re going to have to be a team that grinds it out. We can’t rip and roar up the floor. That was evident… Just because we don’t get something initially, that doesn’t say we have to shoot the ball within the first 30 seconds.”

Starns also said the Eagles had multiple players playing out of position tonight and told the team after the game that it will be vital to learn all roles in practice for when adjustments have to be made.

Opening up the season 0-1, Apollo now turns its attention to a home matchup with Webster County at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re going to have to respond in the right way and have a positive attitude, because Friday is not going to be any easier,” Starns said. “Webster County, they want a fast tempo… They’re going to run and jump us. We’re going to have to be ready for that. They’re going to keep us from running any set that we want to. We’re going to have to be ready to play basketball on Friday.”

December 1, 2021 | 12:05 am

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